The Shard

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Template:Other uses Template:Use British English Template:Use dmy dates Template:Infobox building

The Shard,Template:Efn also referred to as the Shard of Glass, Shard London Bridge and formerly London Bridge Tower,<ref name="Weaver">Template:Cite news</ref><ref name="bbc2010"/> is an 87-storey skyscraper in London that forms part of the London Bridge Quarter development. The Shard's construction began in March 2009; it was topped out on 30 March 2012<ref name="Shard">Template:Cite web</ref> and inaugurated on 5 July 2012.<ref name=DMJ2012/> Practical completion was achieved in November 2012. Its privately operated observation deck, the View from the Shard, opened to the public on 1 February 2013.<ref name=SkyFeb2013>Template:Cite web</ref><ref name=ViewfromTop>Template:Cite web</ref><ref name=Open2013Event>Template:Cite web</ref>

Standing approximately Template:Convert high,<ref name="skyscraperCenter"/> the Shard is currently the tallest building in the European Union. It is the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom, after the concrete tower at the Emley Moor transmitting station.<ref name="Emley">Template:Cite web</ref> The glass-clad pyramidal tower has 72 habitable floors, with a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck – the UK's highest – on the 72nd floor, at a height of Template:Convert.<ref name="skyscraperCenter"/> It was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano and replaced Southwark Towers, a 24-storey office block built on the site in Southwark in 1975. The Shard was developed by Sellar Property on behalf of LBQ Ltd and is jointly owned by Sellar Property and the State of Qatar.<ref name=QatarandSellar>Template:Cite web</ref>



In 1998, London-based entrepreneur Irvine Sellar and his then partners decided to redevelop Southwark Towers following a UK government white paper encouraging the development of tall buildings at major transport hubs. Sellar flew to Berlin in spring 2000 to meet the Italian architect Renzo Piano for lunch. According to Sellar, Piano spoke of his contempt for conventional tall buildings during the meal, before flipping over the restaurant's menu and sketching a spire-like sculpture emerging from the River Thames.<ref name="Bourke">Template:Cite web</ref> He was inspired by the railway lines next to the site, the London spires depicted by the 18th-century Venetian painter Canaletto, and the masts of sailing ships.<ref name="bbc2010">Template:Cite web</ref>

In July 2002, the then-Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, ordered a planning inquiry after the Shard development plans were opposed by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and several heritage bodies, including the Royal Parks Foundation and English Heritage. The inquiry took place in April and May 2003,<ref name="Weaver"/> and on 19 November 2003, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister announced that planning consent had been approved. The government stated that:


File:Southwark Towers, PwC, London.jpg
The Southwark Towers office block, which was demolished in 2008 to make way for the Shard

Sellar and his original partners CLS Holdings plc and CN Ltd (acting for the Halabi Family Trust) secured an interim funding package of £196 million in September 2006 from the Nationwide Building Society and Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander. This enabled them to pay off the costs already incurred and to buy out the Southwark Towers occupational lease from the building's tenants, PricewaterhouseCoopers. Vacant possession of the site was secured a year later, after PricewaterhouseCoopers completed the relocation of their operations.

In September 2007, preparations for the demolition of Southwark Towers began. However, later in the month, turbulence in the financial markets reportedly put the Shard's construction in jeopardy, threatening to render the project an example of the Skyscraper Index.

In November 2007, building contractor Mace was awarded the contract to build the Shard for a fixed price of no more than £350 million. However, this price increased to almost £435 million in October 2008.

In April 2008, demolition of Southwark Towers was visibly under way, and by October, the building had been substantially reduced in height, and was no longer visible on the skyline. The demolition was completed in early 2009, and site preparation began for the construction of the Shard.


In late 2007, the gathering uncertainty in the global financial markets sparked concerns about the viability of the Shard. However, in January 2008, Sellar announced it had secured a consortium of Qatari investors who had paid £150 million to secure an 80% stake in the project. The consortium included Qatar National Bank, QInvest, Qatari Islamic Bank and the Qatari property developer Barwa Real Estate, as well as Sellar Property. The deal involved a buyout of the Halabi and CLS Holdings stakes, and part of the Sellar Property stake. The new owners promised to provide the first tranche of finance, allowing construction of the tower to begin. In 2009, the State of Qatar consolidated its ownership of London Bridge Quarter, including the Shard, through the purchase of the private Qatari investors' stakes. London Bridge Quarter is today jointly owned by the State of Qatar and Sellar Property.<ref name=QatarandSellar/>


Internal structure of the Shard's spire and radiator floors, seen from the 72nd-floor observatory

Renzo Piano, the project's architect, designed the Shard as a spire-like sculpture emerging from the River Thames.<ref name="Bourke"/> He was inspired by the railway lines next to the site, the London spires depicted by the 18th-century Venetian painter Canaletto, and the masts of sailing ships.<ref name="bbc2010"/> Piano's design met criticism from English Heritage, who claimed the building would be "a shard of glass through the heart of historic London", giving the building its name, The Shard. Piano considered the slender, spire-like form of the tower a positive addition to the London skyline, recalling the church steeples featured in historic engravings of the city, and believed that its presence would be far more delicate than opponents of the project alleged. He proposed a sophisticated use of glazing, with expressive façades of angled glass panes intended to reflect sunlight and the sky above, so that the appearance of the building will change according to the weather and seasons. The building features 11,000 panes of glass, with a total surface area of Template:Convert.<ref name="TurnerWebsite">Template:Cite web</ref>

Following the destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC) in the terror attacks of 11 September 2001, architects and structural engineers worldwide began re-evaluating the design of tall structures. The Shard's early conceptual designs were among the first in the UK to be progressed following the publication of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) report into the collapse of the WTC. The building was designed to maintain its stability under very onerous conditions, with its post-tensioned concrete and composite floors, load-bearing pillars and tapering shape giving it a sway tolerance of Template:Convert.<ref name=EandTMag>Template:Cite web</ref>


Floors Floor area Space designation
73–87 Spire
68–72 Template:Convert The View from the Shard (observatory)
53–65 Template:Convert Residences
34–52 Shangri-La Hotel
31–33 Template:Convert Restaurants (Hutong, Oblix and Aqua Shard)
3–28 Template:Convert Offices
1–2 Template:Convert Retail and office reception
Ground Hotel, restaurant and observatory entrances

Source:<ref name="ExploreVertiCity">Template:Cite web</ref>

Power supply

The Shard was designed with energy efficiency in mind. It is fitted with a combined heat and power (CHP) plant, operating on natural gas from the National Grid. Fuel is efficiently converted to electricity and heat is recovered from the engine to provide hot water for the building.


File:Shard from Great Tower Street.jpg
The Shard pictured from Great Tower Street in April 2012


In February 2009, a mobile crane and a small piling rig appeared on site. In early March 2009, the crane began putting steel beams into the ground, as part of preparations for the core of the building. Full construction began on 16 March 2009. Demolition work on New London Bridge House started in May 2009, as part of the concurrent London Bridge Place project. The first steelwork went into the Shard's piles on 28 April.

Five cranes were used to build the Shard, with four of them 'jumping' with the tower as it rose. Crane 1 was erected in September 2009 and Crane 2 was erected at the beginning of October. By 20 October 2009, steel beams began appearing on site, with concrete being poured at the northern part of the site, ready for Crane 3.


By March 2010, the concrete core was rising steadily at approximately Template:Convert a day. After a pause in March–April 2010, it continued rising, reaching the 33rd floor in mid-June, almost level with the top of Guy's Hospital, which stands at Template:Convert. On 27 July 2010, the core stopped rising, having reached the 38th floor, and was reconfigured for further construction.

By mid-November 2010, the core had reached the 68th floor, with the tower's steel reaching the 40th floor and glass cladding enveloping a third of the building. In late November, the core's height exceeded Template:Convert, ending One Canada Square's 18-year reign as Britain's tallest building.


The Shard's concrete core topped out at the 72nd floor in early 2011, standing at Template:Convert. The early part of January 2011 saw the installation of hydraulic screens, which were used to form the concrete floors of the hotel and apartment section of the tower, and rose with the floors up to the 69th floor. On 25 January 2011, the concrete pumps began pouring the first concrete floor at the 41st floor. By the end of February 2011, concrete flooring had risen to the 46th floor, with a new floor being poured on average every week. The cladding of the structure also progressed, mainly on the tower's "backpack".

File:The Shard, Inauguration Lightshow, 2012.jpg
The inauguration of the Shard on 5 July 2012

August 2011 saw steady progress in construction, with cladding enveloping more than half the building's exterior. Pouring of the concrete floors reached the 67th floor, and progression on the tower's cladding reached the 58th floor. By mid-August, the core box had been removed. By 19 September 2011, the tower's steel was approaching the height of the completed core, reaching almost Template:Convert. On 24 September, a final crane – at the time, the tallest ever built in Britain – was erected to install the skyscraper's upper spire. The spire was pre-fabricated and pre-assembled based upon 3D models, and underwent a "test run" in Yorkshire before being lifted onto the building itself.<ref name=LESspire>Template:Cite news</ref> By late December 2011, the Shard had become the tallest building in the European Union, superseding the Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt, Germany.<ref name=GulfTi2012>Template:Cite web</ref>


The Shard's steel structure was topped out on 30 March 2012, when its Template:Convert, 500-tonne spire was winched into place. The steel structure thus reached a height of Template:Convert. The final 516 panes of glass were added shortly after, topping the tower out at its full height of Template:Convert.

The Shard was inaugurated on 5 July 2012 by the Prime Minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, in a ceremony attended by Prince Andrew, Duke of York.<ref name=Open572012>Template:Cite news</ref> The inauguration ceremony featured a large laser light show, comprising twelve lasers and 30 searchlights, which illuminated the building on the London skyline.<ref name=DMJ2012>"Shards of light cut through the sky above London in dress rehearsal for opening ceremony of Europe's tallest building". Daily Mail. 4 July 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2013.</ref> Practical completion of the building was achieved in November 2012.


Standing Template:Convert at its highest point, and Template:Convert at the highest point of its steelwork,<ref name="Shard"/> the Shard became the tallest building in the European Union in December 2011,<ref name=GulfTi2012/> and the tallest completed building in Europe on 30 March 2012. It thus surpassed Frankfurt's Commerzbank Tower, which, at Template:Convert, was Europe's tallest building between 1997 and 2005. Thereafter, the Shard successively exceeded the heights of three Moscow skyscrapers, the Triumph-Palace, Naberezhnaya Tower, and City of Capitals, each of which had held the European height record for roughly 2.5 years. However, upon its completion in November 2012, Moscow's Template:Convert Mercury City Tower replaced the Shard as the tallest in Europe.<ref name=CutDown>Template:Cite web</ref> The Shard may eventually be surpassed as the EU's tallest building by the Template:Convert Hermitage Plaza building, which is planned to be completed in La Défense, Paris, in 2017.

The Shard is the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom, after the Template:Convert concrete transmission tower at Emley Moor.<ref name=Emley/> Another London skyscraper, the Pinnacle, was originally proposed to rival the height of the Shard, but was reduced to a height of Template:Convert because of concerns from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Construction gallery

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In February 2013 The Sunday Times reported that the developers of the Shard were in negotiations to secure the first tenants of the building's 25 floors of office space. In May 2013, the Daily Mail reported that only six of the Shard's 72 habitable floors were in use, as a combination of high prices and poor situation discouraged buyers. Potential other tenants included financial restructuring specialists Duff & Phelps, private equity firm Hatton Corporation and the South Hook Liquefied Natural Gas Company.

The Shard's 31st, 32nd and 33rd floors host three restaurants: Oblix, Hutong and Aqua Shard. The building's Shangri-La Hotel, occupying floors 34–52, was initially expected to open by the end of 2013, but its opening has since been delayed to 2014. In July 2013, the Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera announced that it would open a television studio in the Shard.

Urban exploration, BASE jumping and climbing

In December 2011, a group of recreational trespassers calling themselves Place Hackers evaded security and made their way to the top of the Shard building site, climbing one of the tallest cranes in the process. They later posted photographs of the London skyline taken from the top of the Shard on the Internet and received wide media attention. One member of the group, Oxford University researcher Bradley Garrett, later revealed to various news outlets that over 20 urban explorers had made their way to the top of the building during its construction. In a 2012 article for Domus magazine, Garrett wrote that "the conceptual barrier to places in our cities is brought about by a process of engineered exclusion" and that the explorers were "cultivating the creative city that money can't buy".

In addition, BASE jumpers reportedly jumped from the Shard more than a dozen times between 2009 and 2012. Four jumps were reportedly made by Essex roofer Dan Witchalls, who had filmed one attempt with a helmet-mounted camera. The highest jump was said to have been from a height of Template:Convert.

On 3 September 2012, a team of 40 people, including Prince Andrew, Duke of York, abseiled from the tower's 87th floor. This feat was performed to raise money for the Outward Bound Trust and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund. In November 2012, the French urban climber Alain Robert was spotted in the building by security guards. At the end of the month, the Shard's owners won an injunction to prevent him from entering or climbing the building.

On 11 July 2013, six female Greenpeace volunteers scaled The Shard and unfurled a flag in protest against Arctic oil drilling by Royal Dutch Shell.<ref name=Greenpeace2013>Template:Cite web</ref> The women announced they were 'experienced climbers', but medical personnel were summoned to the base of the tower nonetheless.<ref name=Greenpeace2013/> The Shard's staff closed the tower's observatory and gave the women a safety briefing and other advice during their climb.<ref name=Greenpeace2013/> After completing their 16-hour climb, the six were hauled away by police on a charge of aggravated trespass.<ref name=Greenpeace2013/>

In popular culture

  • The Shard appears in the 2012 short film The Snowman and The Snowdog and its tie-in computer game.
  • The Shard has a significant role in the 2013 Doctor Who episode "The Bells of Saint John". In the episode, people working for the Great Intelligence use it as their headquarters. The Doctor reaches the leader Miss Kizlet's office by riding an antigrav motorbike up the side of the building.

See also


  • List of tallest buildings and structures in London
  • List of tallest buildings in the world
Similar structures
  • Ryugyong Hotel
  • Transamerica Pyramid






  • Powell, Kenneth (2003). New London Architecture. London: Hugh Merrell. pp. 218–219. ISBN 1-85894-232-2.

External links

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